World Heritage Site Durham Cathedral


In 2009 a competition to redesign the exterior floodlighting of Durham Cathedral and Castle (a World Heritage Site (WHS)) was organised by Durham County Council, Durham City Vision, Durham University, WHS Coordinating Committee and the Institution of Lighting Professionals. The existing floodlighting, installed in the 1960s, had reached the end of its serviceable life and the lamps and control gear were no longer energy efficient. Therefore it needed replacing, using modern equipment.

In February 2013, after three years of work the Cathedrals lights were switched on. The scheme is designed to make an impact whether viewed close up or from far away with the design developing significantly in between SLDS being announced as winner of the competition to completion of the scheme, and it ended up being 100 per cent LED.

The scheme uses many more luminaires than before which are positioned closer to the buildings, for a more intricate effect. In total 53 luminaires were removed and 247 were installed. The luminaires were off-set from the Cathedral from approximately 1 – 3 metres. This approach enabled the creation of highlights and shadows which brings the fabric of the building to life. It also removed the need for additional window reveal fittings as this method of lighting naturally highlights the window details.

Neos-1, Neos-2 and Noctis 225 LED floodlights were specified. The fittings are controlled using a partly wireless DMX system to minimise the need for new cabling, which may have caused impact on the fabric of the Cathedral.

Simple remote access to the DMX controller was important – and from previous experience, the Pharos LPC1 lighting controller was the most appropriate solution. This is linked to the computer networks of Durham County Council and Durham University to control the lighting for specific events.

To establish the Cathedrals own identity we chose a colour temperature of 3500-4000K with the Cathedrals counter part, Durham Castle a warmer 3000-3500K. This was to ensure that the two buildings retained their own identity and also to make it possible to distinguish between the two buildings when viewing from a distance.